South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences, Vol 17, No 1 (2014)

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No creative person is an island: Organisational culture, academic project-based creativity, and the mediating role of intra-organisational social ties

Leon AG Oerlemans, Frien van Kessel, Saskia van Stroe


This paper examines the relationship between perceptions of organizational culture, academics’ social embeddedness, and their creative paper project output. It argues that the extent to which researchers working on paper projects are socially embedded by having social ties with colleagues inside and outside their academic department (but within the same university) is a causal step linking organizational values and norms to creative outputs. This study, however, does not find support for the proposed mediating effects. Instead, results indicate that three organizational culture dimensions – i.e. performance orientation, environmental orientation, and innovation support – affect employees’ creative project output through their social embeddedness outside the department (but within their own university). As the organizational culture and social embeddedness of employees outside the department are both contextual factors that (either indirectly or directly) matter for the generation of creative project outputs by researchers, this study concludes that “no creative person and no project is an island”. 

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